Welcome to our live blog of the Pope’s visit to St Mary’s, Twickenham. We’ll be providing links to the most interesting content from around the web and providing up-to-the-minute coverage of what’s happening. Don’t forget to send us your own pictures, stories and video!
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12.51 Pope ends his meeting with interreligious leaders. We’re going to take a break.
12.47 The five non-British men were arrested at 6am at Strawberry Hill, London, by the Met’s counter-terrorism command.
12.46 Fr Michael McAndrew of Southwark talked to the CH about the meeting with interreligious leaders earlier. He said:
“It’s a crucial part of the visit. As the Pope said yesterday we need to base our society on good moral and spiritual foundations. And, in the face of an atheistic society, we need to work with other religions to achieve that.
12.43 Archbishop Kelly speaks of a “dark history” and “bloodshed”. Not clear, though, what he was referring to.
12.42 Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool addresses the Pope and interreligious leaders.
12.41 Sky News says the arrested men are not British.
12.40 ‘Let me assure you the Catholic Church engages in dialogue out of respect for you and your beliefs.’
12.39 The Pope says it is not just about formal dialogue, but about living alongside one another and learning from one another.
12.34 The Pope is now addressing religious leaders. The Catholic Church has placed special emphasis on the importance of dialogue and co-operation with the followers of other religions. In order to be fruitful it requires reciprocity. He emphasises that freedom of conscience and freedom of religion must be established in all parts of the world.
12.31 BREAKING NEWS: BBC reporting that five arrested in connection with Pope’s visit and a terrorism threat. More info when we have it.
12.30 Damian Thompson:
The Pope’s warm, shy, affectionate personality was really on display at the assembly this morning. Like the Glasgow Mass, it was an overwhelmingly happy occasion. Stephen Fry: this visit is not going well for you.
12.22 Sacks quotes both Newman and the Pope’s own encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. He says if we had everything in common, we would have nothing to say. He suggests that we should all inspire to be ‘creative minorities’ and enrich the common good.
12.21 Chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, says the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate “brought about the single greatest transformation of interfaith relations in recent history”.
12.09 In case you missed it (and presuming you’re into your technology), the Telegraph has a list of the ultimate iPhone and Android apps for Catholics.
12.03 The pope is speeding away, his new batic stole having been removed by Mgr Ganswein.
12.02 Fr Tim Finigan has blogged about the media coverage of the Pope’s trip so far.
11.59 The Pope is departing for his meeting with religious leaders and people of faith at the Waldegrave Drawing Room at St Mary’s. Again, the applause is deafening. He is expected to meet the Chief Rabbi and others.
11.57 Telegraph: Cristina Odone writes that the atheists’ hate campaign changed MP Kate Hoey’s mind about the pope’s visit:
Hoey explained that she was fed up with media bias against the Pope and his Church, and couldn’t bear the carping from atheists with an axe to grind and a book to plug… Despite her rejection of many Catholic rules, she is now eager to roll out the red carpet. Tomorrow, when the Pope visits the Little Sisters of the Poor in Hoey’s constituency in south London, he will find the remarkable Kate among the welcome party.
11.56 We’re now running about half an hour late.
11.54 After the apostolic blessing, which just ended, there will be two recessional hymns: “Fill Your Hearts” and “Tell Out, My Soul”. The first is set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody.
11.53 The Pope is now reading the Lord’s Prayer.
11.51 Fr John Boyle tweets, echoing the Pope’s earlier comment that he hopes the saints of tomorrow are in the audience:
A good catholic school should help all students to become saints.
11.50 The Telegraph’s Martin Beckford:
Will famous atheists protest against Pope’s criticism of celebrity culture?
11.49 Pope: “God wants your friendship, and once you enter into a friendship with God, everything begins to change.”
11.48 Pope: “Many people never find [happiness], because they look for it in the wrong places. True happiness is to be found in God. God loves us with a love we can scarcely begin to comprehend.”
11.47 The Pope warns against the unthinking adulation of celebrity culture, reminding children to think what qualities they would like to emulate and consider the kind of person they wish to become.
11.46 Pope: “He loves you more than you can imagine. He wants the best for you. And the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.”
11.45 The Pope is now giving his Address. He begins by thanking everyone involved in the event. He then says given the upcoming Olympic games in London the new Institute of Sport is very timely.
11.44 “We will keep you in our prayers as we seek to live life to the full,” she says to the Pope.
11.44 A vote of thanks will now be given by a student at St Mary’s.
11.42 The litany of commitment is being given by pupils, teachers and governors.
11.41 The Pope stands in his new batic stole.
11.39 Anna Arco notices that “All the star school atheletes are waring Benedict 16 t-shirts”.
11.36 Akinwolere introduces, to somewhat bombastic fanfare, the announcement of the John Paul II Institute for Sport.
11.32 Catholic Herald blogger Stuart Reid tells us what Boris Johnson said to the Pope yesterday and what the Pope said to Boris:
“I told the Pope,” said Boris, “that what was wrong with Britain was that the Roman Emperor Honorius told the Brits in 410 AD that Rome was no longer able to protect them.
“From that time,” said Boris to the Pope, “the British have had a sense of desertion, of confusion, of rejection.”
What did the Pope make of that? I asked Boris. “He looked hunted. His eyes flickered around the room.”
Did he saying anything? “Yes”, said Boris. “He said: ‘Very interesting’.”
11.32 The Holy Cross pupils are now presenting gifts to the Pope, including “a cross with decorative symbols representing both schools”.
11.29 A live link to Gambia has been put up on the screens. “Peace be with you,” repeats the girl on screen from St John Vianney Basic Cycle School.
11.28 “Friendship, trust and understanding” have been learned about, says the co-ordinator of the project.
11.26 “We’ve enjoyed learning about new food,” says one child about the initiative.
11.24 The pupils from Holy Cross school in Plymouth are being welcomed on stage.
11.20 The television broadcast is playing a video about the link between Holy Cross school, Plymouth, and a school in Gambia.
11.18 The Guardian’s John Hooper:
A very senior official assures me no victims’ meeting this morning. We’ll see.
11.18 From the Telegraph:
Some within the Pope’s camp have been dismayed by the opposition to his trip but Oxford academic Diane Purkiss points out that they need a bit of perspective.
“A visit from the Pope in the mid-to-late 17th Century would have been likely to result in physical attacks by large groups of ordinary people and the state on ordinary Roman Catholics or even the Pope himself,” she writes, pointing out that deaths of Catholics were seen as a cause for celebration.
11.17 Anna Arco tweets:
Scottish students give a book of poetry from Iona, while the Welsh pupils are giving a history of [Welsh] martyrs.
11.16 And now for a jazzy gospel number.
11.16 Fr Tim Finigan tweets:
Gotta hand it to them – the choice of gifts for the Pope is good and the youngsters are speaking well.
11.16 Presentations from children from all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales.
11.14 The backing music taking us back to Star Trek circa 1990.
11.13 Some delightful John Williams-type music coming over the speakers now.
11.11 Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere introduces a presentation by children to the Holy Father. The Pope is being presented with three books.
11.07 McMahon announces a year of celebration of Catholic education. Today one in ten young people is educated in England’s Catholic schools, he says.
11.06 McMahon: “We celebrate the wonderful sense of faith and community that characterises our schools … Christ’s words guide us as we strive to educate our children … A human person is made in the image of God and this is most fully expressed in the desire to know and love.”
11.05 McMahon to the Pope: “You can see for yourself what joy your visit has brought to our hearts.”
11.03 The Pope is now on stage, and being welcomed by the president of the student union, who mentions Cardinal Newman before welcoming on to the stage Bishop McMahon.
11.02 The pope has been greeted by Bishop Malcolm McMahon.
11.00 Andrew Brown has defended the Pope’s comments yesterday in the Guardian:
We’re not used to Germans coming here to talk about the war, so many people have jumped to entirely the wrong conclusion about Pope Benedict’s attack on atheist extremism. He didn’t mean us. He didn’t even mean Richard Dawkins. He was talking about the Nazis, who, he said “wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.”
The atheist tyrannies of the 20th century did kill millions of people, many of them for their Christian beliefs. For Benedict, that is one of the main lessons of modern history. He seems never to have appreciated the horrors of Spanish-speaking and notionally Catholic fascisms in the same visceral way. The restoration of decent government in Germany was accomplished in his lifetime by Christian Democrat politicians; the fall of the Berlin Wall might not have happened so quickly without the pressure exerted by Pope John Paul II.
10.59 The children are now singing the song they’ve been practising all morning. “Siyahamba” is a South African song with a distinctive woo-hoo melody that means “We are walking in the Light of God”.
10.58 A presenter is explaining the events of yesterday as the Pope approaches.
10.56 And it’s off, flanked by half a dozen bodyguards.
10.54 The Pope is now outside and about to get into the popemobile to cross the campus of St Mary’s University College. He’s now running very late, but the cheering is as vigorous as ever.
10.52 This from the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson about the Pope’s speech:
Pope Benedict is saying that education is about imparting true wisdom – it has a ‘transcendent’ dimension that must help the young encounter their creator.
The mention of transcendence is typical Ratzinger: we’re far removed from the trendy jargon of educationalists, including Catholic ones. “Did he just say he was taught by English ladies as a child? Difficult to say, as his accent is heavy – but there’s no doubting the fluency of his English or its natural rhythms.
This is clearly someone who is comfortable talking in English, which wasn’t the case with John Paul II.
10.51 The final hymn is being sung.
10.47 Applause. The Pope has presented a gift to Bishop George Stack for St Mary’s – an icon of the Virgin Mary. A final hymn, “Lord, you give the great commission”, in a setting by Cyril V Taylor, is about to be sung.
10.47 “True wisdom” comes from God’s love, says the pope in his prayer and blessing.
10.46 The Pope’s speech, which focused on wisdom, rather than faith schools specifically, has ended. The congregation is reciting the Our Father.
10.45 Pope: “Education… is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full.” Catholic ethos “needs to inform every aspect of school life”.
10.43 Pope gives “thanks and praise” to educators and to God.
10.42 Frank Skinner, in today’s Times, says there was something beautiful about pilgrims making their way to see the papal events:
Those pilgrims, gliding through the dark night of drunken London, will be exhilarated at the prospect of seeing not Joseph Ratzinger the man, but rather the representative of an office that has always epitomised Catholicism. That’s why I got the tingles when I watched him getting off the aircraft on TV yesterday.
10.41 The imparting of wisdom is a major theme today. The Pope has acknowledged the Secretary of State for Education and expressed ‘sentiments of deep appreciation’ for teachers and pupils. “Education can never be seen as purely utilitarian. It is about imparting wisdom,” he says.
10.41 From our reporter Anna Arco:
This has got to beat most boring school assemblies. Absolutely great atmosphere. And total silence.
10.38 The Pope has begun his address.
10.37 A reading from the book of Wisdom. Here’s a snippet:
I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;
compared with her, I held riches as nothing.
I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer,
for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand,
and beside her silver ranks as mud.
10.35 The Opening Prayer is now being delivered by the Holy Father. He is speaking of God’s wisdom and hoping that “through the seeds of wonder and inquiry [...] we may continue to grow in [it]“.
10.33 Welcoming speech alludes gently to the abuse crisis, more pointedly to Britain’s “multicultural” society.
10.33 “We assure you of our support and prayers … We wish to assure you that the religious of England, Scotland and Wales are sustaining their commitment to mission”.
10.32 A representation of the religions is welcoming the Pope.
10.30 Veni sancte spiritus has been going on for an awfully long time now!
10.28 The official guidebook’s comparison between live papal events and “gigs” doesn’t look so laughable now: the Pope is being welcomed like a rock star. He’s now in the chapel, from which we can still hear lovely music. He’s making his wat to the altar.
10.27 Some of the children are taking photographs of the Pope from about a foot away. I suspect they might be disappointed when they’re developed.
10.25 The Pope is in the crowd now, greeting children. He is receiving flowers from them. Ganswein has been collecting the bouquets while the Holy Father wanders around ruffling hair.
10.22 The Pope has arrived to a rapturous welcome. Loads of flags everywhere. Georgeous Georg is in tow and Michael Gove and Vince Cable are there to greet the Holy Father as he gets out of the car.
10.21 Here’s here!
10.21 The Telegraph says that despite losing “the battle of the slogans” with banners like “Neocatechumenal Communities of Great Britain Welcome the Pope”, supporters of the Pope are definitely winning the numbers game.
10.19 The Guardian reports that Tony Blair’s wife Cherie has been defending the Pope’s visit and talking about the significance of Catholicism in Britain:
We shouldn’t apologise for where we’ve come from. Everyone knows that this country has traditionally been a Christian country.
Yesterday there was an overwhelmingly positive response to him on the streets of Scotland and, yes, this is a state visit, and as a state visit the state pays as it’s a reciprocal visit for the Queen having been there before. But it is also a spiritual visit and for that the church is paying.
10.18 The Telegraph’s Martin Beckford has tweeted:
Pope’s speech to kids on education is v positive and not really about faith schools – protestors might have to take the day off #papalvisit
10.15 The Independent’s Paul Vallely has joined pilgrims, including some Catholic teachers, in Glasgow:
Many on the coach were retired teachers. Even more in the park were children from local Catholic schools. Some 2,300 of all the schools in the UK are Catholic, and the community, in addition to the taxes it pays, contributes an additional £200m in donations to the state system.
“What we try to teach in a Catholic school is the principle of loving your neighbour as yourself, which means showing concern for each other,” said Peter Burbridge, at the back of the bus. He had just retired after 36 years at St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle. What of the claim that faith schools are divisive? “They can be,” he replied. “But they can also provide the glue which helps a community stick together.”
10.13 It looks as though the Holy Father is late. His celebration with the children was supposed to start in just a few minutes.
10.11 An interesting snippet of popemobile-related news. Boris Johnson has just told the Catholic Herald:
In return for a general absolution, I have granted the Popemobile an exemption from the congestion charge.
10.09 There’s some beautiful singing coming from St Mary’s chapel now – it’s Veni sancte spiritus, which means “Come, Holy Spirit”, in a setting by Christopher Walker.
10.08 Concert pianist Stephen Hough writes on his Telegraph blog that he’d love to play a duet with the Pope.
Although there are areas where he and I may not see eye to eye, I’ve always imagined him as a man willing to listen, someone who was more interested in tending and pruning than in weeding – in fact, the perfect duet partner.”
10.06 From Anna Arco, our intrepid reporter on the ground: “The sun is shining and there’s a joyful atmosphere here. The gospel music want down very well with the kids, who were clapping and waving. Everybody is really enjoying themselves.”
10.03 The Pope is about to arrive at St Mary’s to pray with representatives of religious congregations. After that, he’ll celebrate the opening of the John Paul II Institute for Sport with the children.
10.01 “The Pope’s visit means being part of a huge family, and being proud of being a part of that.”
09.57 Many of the pupils are from Maria Fidelis convent school in north London, and Holy Rosary and St Anne’s Catholic Primary School in Chapeltown, Leeds – one of the most deprived parts of the city. Kathryn Carter, the headteacher, told the Herald that they were “absolutely ecstatic” when they heard they would be singing at the event.
09.54 The kids are swaying to Siyahamba – We are Walking in the Light of God. Next: Fill Your Hearts.
09.52 Back to the kids at St Mary’s. They are practising the hymns, and are being told: “All these hymns are about joy, and praise, and that’s really got to come over in the way we sing.”
09.49 While they are warming up, it seems a good time to have a look at today’s papers. The Daily Mail has the headline: “Danger of a Godless society, by the Pope”. It focuses on the Pope’s condemnation of “aggressive secularism”. It has a big picture of the Holy Father holding a baby in a pink jumpsuit. It also has a story on Sally Bercow, the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who it says joined anti-Pope tweeters yesterday: “The Pope has landed,” she wrote. “Mark the occasion by sponsoring my parachute jump for Stonewall UK and gay rights.”
09.44 They are singing now with the backing of a brass band. The tune is Ode to Joy. The song appears to be Fill Our Hearts with Gladness. Next up: Tell Out My Soul, by Timothy Dudley-Smith.
09.41 Pupils are practising the Our Father. Now they are all saying “hello!” to the compere’s father, who is watching from America online.
09.36 Good morning! We have turned on the live coverage on the papal visit website to see Bishop Malcolm McMahon swaying with children along to Siyahamba – We Are Walking in the Light of God, originally a South African hymn in the Zulu language. They are warming up, it seems.